Campy: The Two Lives of Roy Campanella by Neil Lanctot.
Here’s an ethnic baseball trivia question: Name the eight Italian Americans who have hit 40 or more home runs in a major league season?
A couple of names come readily to mind; Joe DiMaggio and Rocky Colavito from the distant past, and more recently Mike Piazza and Jason Giambi. Rounding out the list are Jim Gentile, Rico Petrocelli, Ken Caminitti and perhaps the trick part of the question Roy Campanella.
Neil Lanctot’s recent biography Campy: The Two Lives of Roy Campanella, would seem to refer to the great catcher’s life before and after an automobile accident left him a paraplegic, ending his baseball playing career in 1958, 10 years after he became one of the breakthrough group of African American major leaguers with the Brooklyn Dodgers. However, the book’s title may also convey two additional double entendres: one concerning his dual ethnicity as an African-American and Italian-American, and another perhaps his two baseball careers as a veteran of both the Negro and Major professional leagues. In any event, themes of duality are consistently revisited throughout this well-balanced assessment of Campanella’s complex life.